[The DC Council -- After each Wizards game: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the bench, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is over the table. Game 14 contributors: Kyle Weidie and John Converse Townsend with first-hand coverage, and Sam Permutt watching from afar.]
An unusual post-game locker room indeed, after a big 105-102 Washington Wizards win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night at the Verizon Center. It was a release of coping amongst players relieved to exhale their goofiness, or at least some smiles in front of media pixel vultures. There was talk of swagger, trust, playing with no fear, and giving people the ball when they’re open. Nick Young enjoyed the sounds of ‘swish’ as much as lauding in the fact that Kevin Durant put up an airball against his defense.
It was doing the little things, the young Wizards realized. But John Wall, without hesitation, pointed out that they were still 2-12. And the much-maligned Andray Blatche? His message was simple: “I’m still here,” (why? stay tuned for part two) as he jokingly patted himself on the shoulder/back for hitting a 30-foot three-pointer at the third quarter buzzer to bring the Wizards within four points going into the final stanza.
The Wizards said WHAT? This is what they said… Pt. 1 featuring Flip Saunders, John Wall, Nick Young, Andray Blatche, Jordan Crawford, JaVale McGee and Roger Mason…
At every buzzer, there are key points you can look back on when considering the outcome — a game-changing instance, a slept-on moment, an initial reaction to the final score. Sure, in a contest of ebbs and flows, moments can be subjective, but it doesn’t make it any one less important than others. In a Wizards 105-102 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, these were some of those moments…
On the Wizards’ struggles to rebuild, particularly without a second star to help John Wall:
[Wall] does (have help). He does have some guys here, you know. He has JaVale, he has Andray Blatche, Jordan Crawford. They have a nice young core here, man. It’s all about being patient and knowing that if you’re working hard every single day that things are going to change soon. Like I said, they have a great group of guys here and they look like they enjoy playing with each other. It’s just a matter of time before everything starts to click. Same scenario with us, man. I didn’t know know what was going to happen. After the first year, losing 62 games, then the second year, losing 59. Coming back, your confidence is shot a little, not knowing what’s going to happen. But, if you stay positive and stay confident, things are going to change.
On whether Washington, D.C. is a destination for big-name free agents:
Tonight before the Wizards-Thunder game I had a chance to quickly chat with Washington Wizards rookie Chris Singleton about his defensive assignment: Kevin Durant. Here that goes…
On your defensive assignment of Kevin Durant… are you ready to battle?
“I feel like I’m ready more than ever. I mean, he’s a tough competitor. He’s got so many different things he can do, he can shoot. He’s also 6’11″, can handle the ball. He’s got so many ways he can beat you. I’m just looking forward to the task.”
The young team everyone wants to be comes to the District this evening. Odds-makers are comfortable giving the Oklahoma City Thunder an 11-point cushion over the Washington Wizards; many optimists and pessimists alike expect the visitors’ final margin to be double that. But hey, there could be some excitement… there’s always a chance for excitement. For instance, it might be interesting to see how Wizards rookie Chris Singleton matches up against Kevin Durant, or if John Wall can build on his 38-point performance and perhaps force Russell Westbrook into some bad shots. The ages of Oklahoma City’s starting lineup go something like this: 23, 23, 27, 22, 27; Washington’s go like this: 21, 26, 22, 24, 24 — the difference is five years. If only age and youth were valid assessors of team capability. In any case, you know the 3-on-3 drill… Today’s guest is Royce Young from the banging TrueHoop Network OKC-affiliated blog Daily Thunder; he is joined by TAI’s John Converse Townsend and myself, Kyle Weidie. Three questions, three answers starts now…Read more »
All the questions seem the same. The answers all come out of a box. But dammit these people are working … the media covering struggling basketball teams such as the Wizards.
Everybody is usually laughing and joking around in the press conference room before Flip Saunders’ post game sessions. It’s to that point. But when Flip comes in (assuming after a loss, per usual), the stone-faced come out. There are tough questions, there are softballs, there are random ones peppered from abroad about the development of Yi.
[John Wall weaves his way to the hoop and draws a foul versus the Oklahoma City Thunder.]
It is axiomatic that the NBA is a copycat League, especially given the incestuous nature of most coaching/front office jobs. This season, there is a stunning lack of parity: eight teams have a realistic chance of winning the title (and that’s being a bit generous). The other twenty-two are either a) borderline top-tier, b) making aggressively mediocre moves, c) rebuilding, or d) owned by Michael Jordan. For rebuilding teams, the Oklahoma City Thunder are the gold standard.
An NBA front office can only pitch a Rebuild to a fan base for so long. Most passionate fans will eventually get tired of seeing a middling product on the court — there has to be ‘A Plan.’ Today, the language of The Rebuild abounds. Organizations are increasingly looking to the Thunder as a model that must be emulated in order to resurrect their franchises. Indeed, Oklahoma City’s ‘blue print’ is the prototypical example of a successful NBA rebuild.
Last year, the Thunder were a Pau Gasol offensive rebound away from forcing Game 7 against the Lakers. This year, at the trading deadline, Thunder GM Sam Presti added Kendrick Perkins to an already formidable, athletic front-court, presumably giving Oklahoma City the size to match up with any playoff contender. Hailed by many to be a case of Presti-fleecing-Ainge, the Perkins acquisition represents the culmination of a four year rebuilding process by the Thunder. After extending Perkins’ contract, the pieces are in place for several years of relevance.
There were varied reactions to the airing of ESPN’s Fab Five documentary this past Sunday. Some people (like myself) were young impressionable college students when Michigan’s Fab Five rose to fame, and were captivated by everything they did — whether it was good or bad. Others (like a friend of mine who is a Duke fan) watched the documentary and were reminded of all the negative feelings they felt toward Michigan out of loyalty to their team. And of course, I’m sure there were some who watched with relative indifference toward the Wolverines, and simply enjoyed the stories, interviews and old clips of exciting basketball.
There are current NBA players who were much too young to watch and experience the play of Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Jimmy King, Juwan Howard and Ray Jackson. They may know about the later pro careers of Rose and Webber, and they definitely know of them via ESPN, TNT and NBATV, but they have no recollection of their college days at Michigan. They probably know Howard as a contributing bench player for the Miami Heat, but they don’t remember the goatee’d one running up and down the court in maize and blue. King and Jackson probably don’t even register on their radar screens.
So in the ten minutes I had in the Oklahoma City Thunder locker room prior to their drubbing of the Wizards Monday night, I asked Kevin Durant, Daequan Cook and Cole Aldrich about the documentary and the Fab Five in general. All three players were under the age of five when the Fab Five was taking the NCAA by storm, and I was curious to hear their musings. Plus, the chemistry of the Thunder overall seems to be identical, if not very similar, to the chemistry of those 1991-1993 Michigan teams. I asked each of them three questions: Read more »
The Wizards were slaughtered by the Oklahoma City Thunder like lambs in the path of Zeus’ lightening bolts from Mount Olympus on Monday night. The rivers in the Verizon Center run red with the blood of losing. In addition to their 116-89 take down by the Thunder, Washington has lost their last two games by a combined 48 points. The statistics and numbers relating the common place of losing could go on; now the Wizards set their watching to those numbers.
Injuries, inefficiencies, youth, lack of heart and effort … the Verizon Center has become a dollar store for losing excuses. Or rather, reasons. But hey, the kids are in the pool. This is a good thing. Adult time and a dolt time is over with the forced hiatus of several injured veterans. There are still problem children, but without notables who enjoy night club potent potables, losing couldn’t be more comfortable. Not necessarily more comfortable for the fans and certainly not for the players and coaches, but for those who will endure.
The air about the team is all about getting this over with as fast as possible, which could be dangerous in the complacency of an apathetic mis-education and development. Seventeen games equating over a fifth of a season are left … gosh that’s a long time. If it continues to end horribly, upon whom will that reflect poorly?